Artbound

S12 E6 | FULL EPISODE

Mustache Mondays

See how a roving LGBTQ night club event in Los Angeles called “Mustache Mondays” became a creative incubator for today’s leading edge contemporary artists. This film examines the history of these spaces and how they shaped the Queer cultural fabric unique to Southern California.

AIRED: November 17, 2021 | 0:53:45
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

Man: What do you do on a Monday

night? You watch "Gossip Girl,"

and you got to Mustache Monday.

Man: Mustache was a party

that reignited Downtown L.A.

Man: Creative people all around

L.A. came to us.

Woman: The best party in L.A.

Man: Safe space to dress up or

dress down, take things off.

Man: A whole generation has come

up through Mustache.

Man: So many different people

that would come through our

doors that have all since then

blown up.

Man: And that really speaks

to the power of that party.

[Cheers and applause]

Announcer: This program was made

possible in part by City of Los

Angeles Department of Cultural

Affairs, Los Angeles County

Department of Arts and Culture,

National Endowment for the Arts,

and the Frida Berlinski

Foundation.

Man: Mainstream gay nightlife

has always been very homogenized

and primarily geared towards

gay white men.

But for those of us that want

more than just what that box has

to offer, there were very

limited options.

I got my start DJing back in

high school.

Really what it came from was

just a lifelong obsession with

music. I started off DJing

in straight bars

and doing straight clubs

because all the DJs I hung

out with were straight.

And then once I started going to

gay events, and then from there,

it was like, OK, well, how do I

get into here?

Places like Circus and Arena and

7969 in West Hollywood,

those were some of the first

places that I got to play at in

L.A. And it was during that

time that I met Nacho.

Danny: I was friends with Nacho

for a long time.

He had two roommates already and

they were both moving out.

I told him to save me a spot in

the loft, and I would rent it. A

month later, I moved in.

Downtown wasn't as

popular as it is. It still

felt kind of raw and new.

And also, Nacho always

was the type of person that

had just a lot of visitors,

friends, artists,

choreographers.

Josh: In gay nightlife,

especially in West Hollywood at

the time, musically,

you really could only kind of

hear one style of music, which

was house and dance-pop

remixes, and it's still very

prevalent in that particular

scene.

But, you know, if you're gay and

you don't listen to that kind of

music, then where do you go?

Danny: We would try to go to

so-called Latino nights here and

there, and it was just not our

vibe. It's not our music, you

know? Sure, it was dance music

and some of it was in Spanish,

but that's not how we would

categorize ourselves.

We were much broader. And we

were just in search of a good

time.

Josh: Nacho had a friend who was

managing Crash Mansion at the

time, and he offered Nacho the

opportunity to come and do a

Monday night event.

They were trying to fill out

their calendar, their roster for

the week at the venue,

and he basically said, "We've

got a Monday night open and

would you guys be interested in

throwing a party?"

When we first started, it was

myself, Danny, and Nacho because

we were living together.

So, it was, you know, the 3 of

us. But Dino was also brought in

to be part of the team.

Dino: Downtown has always been

this sort of palimpsest for

cultural and social things.

And at the time, it seemed like

throwing a queer party downtown

was kind of a necessity,

just to have a laugh and to get

something going.

So I was all for it.

Singer: ♪♪ Uno, dos, tres ♪♪

Danny: The mustache part was

just kind of like a nod to

masculinity, gay masculinity,

so those fans of people who like

mustaches would come.

Josh: Nacho would do everything

ahead of time,

all the curating and the

planning and getting the artwork

done and working, you know,

hiring photographers.

We really just wanted to have

something of our own where we

played the music that we wanted

to play.

It didn't really matter that it

was a gay event, you know.

We could sort of break the rules

of what gay nightlife was really

all about at the time.

Man: With the decriminalization

of places like the gay bar,

we still saw the rise of racism,

discrimination, prejudice,

sexism, transphobia throughout

the seventies and the eighties,

and this is like in

Los Angeles, this is nationally.

Bradford: When Mustache came

out, it was a really odd moment

in L.A. culture and especially

L.A. nightlife culture. But L.A.

is a pretty segregated space.

You didn't really get as much

mixing as you did at Mustache.

Anita: At that time being like a

Latino or Latina, you know,

wasn't as accepted as it is now.

It was very challenging.

Man on TV: They keep coming.

Two million illegals in

California.

The federal government won't

stop them at the border,

yet requires us to pay billions

to take care of them.

Danny: When I was growing up,

there was a stereotype for male

Latinos. Sometimes you're viewed

as the hot, steamy Latin lover,

and other times you're viewed as

a threat to people.

Tony: Say hello to my little

friend!

[Gunfire]

Franc: My full name is Francisco

Fernandez, which is a very

Latino name. Like, in early high

school when I was trying to get

a job, I remember changing it to

Franc with a "C" because I

wasn't getting any callbacks.

Then suddenly,

I got like callbacks from like

the Gap or Banana Republic or

whatever I was trying to get in.

I know I can walk in a room

and code switch and be the

whitest person or the

straightest person.

I mean, I'm a white Latino, but

I wasn't like an American white

person.

So I think I always kind of felt

slightly on the outskirts of

things.

Rafa: Growing up in a very

traditional, kind of like

Mexican household,

I definitely, like, suppressed,

like, any, like, queer

performativity, or better yet,

I was made to suppress it.

Miss Barbie Q: I was one of

those kids that was

just feminine from the get-go,

but I didn't understand my own

divine femininity.

And so, I was called sissy and

homo from like, you know, 8 or 9

years old until I

understood what that meant.

Gabriela: I don't think there

really was a community for

myself growing up.

I was just around my siblings

and my parents until I got to

like high school and I made

friends.

I feel like I connected with

them so much because we were so

different from other people.

Dino: I always felt like I was a

cube and the world was a sphere.

I didn't have the language or

the sophistication to kind of

figure out why I didn't really

feel completely right

in the normal world. To

put a name on it, made it

official, and that was

terrifying to me.

Man: When you think about L.A.,

you think about West Hollywood

and the buff gay guys

and these big clubs there.

And that was something that we

were never interested in.

I was never interested in. When

we found out about Mustache

Mondays, it was just such an

exciting place. It was different

because it was so diverse. You

know, you walked in and there

would be like all kinds of

people. There wasn't any

stereotypes. And it was a

gender-free zone.

Like, you could just be anything

there, and it was sexy.

Bradford: A bar like Akbar

portends to be a queer space,

but it's really a white male gay

space that accepts other people.

But it is not for those people.

So I think when you think about

a queer party, you're thinking

about like a nexus of the people

that are not being catered to.

And, you know, Nacho really

just grabbed that mantle and

ran.

Josh: At that time,

I was DJing In West Hollywood

and doing a lesbian hip-hop

night called Fuse.

And the venue was having issues

with fights breaking out. And

the people in charge were

trying to blame the fights

on the fact that we were playing

a lot of hip-hop.

Miss Barbie Q: The LGBTQ

acronym does not

exclude us from the isms.

And I think that's a fallacy

that a lot of people mistake.

I know I did when I first came

out going to the gay clubs in

West Hollywood.

I thought, I'm out. I'm proud.

Everyone's going to accept me.

And that was not the case.

Josh: I don't believe that any

of the problems that they were

having had anything to do with

the music or the people that

were attending.

I wrote a letter, and I

explained my perspective on the

matter.

"Despite the fact that Here

Lounge's patrons are wholly

encouraged to drink as much

liquor as they can, management

feels it's appropriate to blame

any fights on the music that I

am playing.

I didn't realize that the simple

act of playing a song with

rap lyrics and/or hip-hop

beats automatically drew in an

unruly and violent crowd.

Assuming someone is violent

because they listen to

hip-hop is the music equivalent

of racial profiling.

It's no different from a white

police officer pulling over a

Black man just because he's

black, and therefore, assumed to

be up to no good. Musically,

I don't see the distinction

between hip-hop, house, electro,

pop, et cetera.

It's all the same to me, just

different tempos, and I consider

dance music to be anything with

a good beat that makes me want

to dance. If you dance to it, it

is dance music.

And if it makes me want to

dance, I'm going to play it."

Maluca: ♪♪ Tengo todo papi

Tengo todo papi

Tengo fly, tengo party

Tengo una sabrosura

Tengo todo papi

Tengo todo papi

Tengo fly, tengo party

Tengo una sabrosura

Ay, Mama

Papi

Usted me oye ay no no tengo

Numero usted esta loco

Ay por dios mira esa baina

Mira esa baina

Ah, no, no, no, no, no, no

Me mata el novio

I went around your way

I went around your way

I went to 182nd and Audubon

Just the other day

Got my do at the salon

Looking good like always

Went to the bodega for a loose

And you saw me you had

El tigereso in the air ♪♪

Josh: When we started this

event, this was the first time

that any of us had really

thrown a weekly party and

learning the ins and outs and

working through the sort of

trial and error of figuring out

how to do that

and also how to negotiate with

bars and venues about, you know,

money, getting our fair cut.

We're bringing all these people

to the space, obviously, you

know, we're able to charge a

cover at the door,

but there was a lot of push and

pull about trying to get a

percentage of bar sales, which

is normally how it works. But

when we started, it wasn't

presented to us as an

option like that.

As the night is continuing to

grow and expand and we're seeing

a lot more bodies coming

through, we weren't seeing the

revenue.

It would get to a point where

Nacho would be feeling taken

advantage of, and we all would

really.

When he felt that he was being

taken advantage of or

disrespected, we would make a

move.

Danny: We had Crash Mansion,

then we moved over to Charlie

Os. And there was a lot of fun

to be had there.

That's when we really started

engaging our artist friends, our

choreographer friends to come

and try out whatever projects

they were working on with us

as an audience.

We realized after the first

night, that we had a bomb, you

know. We had a really good

product.

Josh: Eventually Nacho really

kind of stepped up and said,

"I'm going to leave this now.

This is my vision, and I need to

see this through." And that was

a big step for him.

Man: Aw, now.

[Laughter]

Woman: Growing up, Nacho was the

sweetest, kindest, most

sensitive soul. Outgoing

and fun and witty, creative,

super funny, very compassionate.

Abel: He was a really good

friend, always supportive,

very honest and transparent with

me. Nacho was always into art.

We liked weird movies and

bands and stuff like that.

Carina: He gave me my first

cassette when I was 8 years old.

It was CeCe Peniston.

Diana: For a lot of years,

it was just him and I. And he

was a very loving kid,

so it made it really easy to

love him, to be with him all the

time. He was just so gentle in

spirit and in all his actions.

Danny: Nacho was the hub of

communication for us.

He did all the blasting and

promoting. It was him that had

the list of people that would

follow him because he did

parties before I ever partnered

up with him. If he didn't throw

a party, he knew where the

parties were.

Bradford: What Nacho's

strength was was an intuitive

approach towards what we would

call curating.

When Nacho did the event that we

did together for On Location,

I was able to watch the flow of

how he worked, and it was very

like this, this, this,

"OK, let's go."

But that comes out of a life of

living in your community and

practicing what you preach.

Joseph: Mustache was a party

that reignited Downtown L.A.

And I think what makes it unique

was this legendary lineups of

DJs and artists, performers.

Also, just the ethos of care and

community that was birthed from

that party continues to today,

and you see it ripple through

art, film, music,

and that really speaks to the

power of that party.

Josh: Miss Barbie Q is someone

who I've known for 25 years now.

At the time, she had

retired from drag and from

nightlife in general.

Miss Barbie Q: I had gotten

a boyfriend, I was taking care

of my mom. She was sick. And

drag wasn't really fulfilling me

anymore.

Josh: Once the ball got rolling

with Mustache, and I saw that it

was definitely going to be

something that was going to last

and I kind of realized that we

needed someone to be on the mic

and someone to kind of just sort

of be the ringleader,

I called Miss Barbie Q, and I

said, "Hey, you know, we're

doing this night, and I just

think that we need you."

Miss Barbie Q: And so I said,

"Well, if I'm gonna come and

do drag, I'm going to do it

what feels right."

I came to Mustache and I met

Nacho, and then Nacho

immediately gave me a hug.

And I talked to my boyfriend and

I said, "I think I really need

to do this."

Josh: To me, it just seemed like

a no-brainer.

Like, she seemed like the

perfect fit, and I was right.

Miss Barbie Q: I don't know who

that was.

Josh: She came on board, and

that's when things really

started to take off.

Miss Barbie Q: My ritual always

started off with taking a nap.

I would get up around 7:00, put

on some music, light some

incense, and figure out what I'm

gonna wear that night.

Sometimes it was sixties night,

sometimes it was seventies

night, sometimes it was modern.

And then I would walk to the

club. I would wear my tennis

shoes. I don't know about the

rest of y'all, but walking in

high heels is hard.

So I would put my heels in my

bag and my purse and my makeup

and walk to Mustache.

I was living in downtown at the

time. Joshua always said

I looked like a downtown

secretary.

And then as the night would go

on, letting people in, telling

people to wait, hugging people,

a lot of hugs, a lot of hugs, a

lot of air kisses.

Mwah mwah.

Usually around 1:30,

Nacho would come up to the

front and he would go, "Go in

and dance."

And then I would go on the

dance floor, and all the people

that came through, I got to see

them all.

[Dance music playing]

[Cheers and applause]

Man: I started DJing

accidentally and slowly,

mostly just from collecting

records from a young age and

making compilation tapes

of things I loved and finding

ways to make them work together

that complemented each other.

And that led to DJing.

I went to like an arts

production high school, and they

had like a radio station,

and I worked there and, like,

kind of like started learning

about DJ stuff there.

A friend of mine had invited me

to go to Mustache,

and I think Mustache

had just started, and I was

like, "That name is weird, but

I'll go."

I got there, it was like,

the vibe was just very cute and

felt familiar to me. And I was

like, "God, I just love it here.

I need to be involved in this."

And that night, I was like, "Who

runs this party?

I'm gonna trick them into

letting me DJ.

I'm gonna do it." And I guess I

met Nacho that night.

Man: I love you, Nacho!

Ashland: I told him I wanted to

DJ. And he was like,

"Oh, well, do you

have like a mix tape?"

And I was like, "Ooh, mix tape.

Yes." So I like went home

and just made a cassette

mix tape.

Josh: So I went my storage

unit and got my tape deck, and

we brought it home and listened

to the tape.

Ashland: Oh, my god.

Josh: I was surprised

because Nacho was ranting and

raving so hard about what he

heard from you before the tape

came in that when we

heard the tape and I was like,

"That's interesting. OK."

Ashland: Josh is such a

ridiculously talented DJ,

such a crazy hard worker, has

been DJing non-stop every

night at like the biggest clubs

since he was like 16.

It was a very cool situation to

be allowed to like play with

Josh because I just learned what

a DJ is supposed to do,

actually, you know, like what

the real job actually is.

Definitely helped me like polish

my messy noise thing into like a

more like palatable sound. And

also Nacho's almost like violent

support, where he just, like,

really believes in, like, all of

his, like, friends and all of

his, like, collaborators, you

know, and, like, being

everyone's champion, giving a

platform to, like,

almost anybody who was

interested. That level of

support was definitely, like, an

inspiration to just do better,

you know.

Rafa: There's a couple of things

that I could say about, like,

how Mustache and Nacho, like,

really inspired my work.

I think Mustache was this

really, like, multidisciplinary,

like, queer platform that

created, like, a fun, safe space

for people to gather once a week

for, like, nearly 10 years. That

in and of itself is, like,

bonkers, like, to think of.

I love Los Angeles.

It's an incredible source of

inspiration for my work.

It's always a beautiful city to

come back to.

I've always known that I was

queer.

I remember, like, always wanting

to just be in the kitchen with

my tias and sit around while

they, like, cooked or, like,

just, like, gossiped.

It was, like, my favorite place

to be in. While the boys were

out, like, playing football,

basketball, or whatever sports,

I was always, like, indoors.

I loved to be around that

energy.

I think art has the power to

open up a portal into a world,

into ways of thinking that no

other kind of field of inquiry

could do. I feel like that's an

incredible offering that art has

a capacity to do.

So, "al Tempo" is a collage

image of photographs that I

found, and it's painted on an

adobe surface.

So adobe's this material

that my father used to work with

to make other way bricks.

And it's a practice that he

taught me how to work with.

It feels like a material that

has so much in it already

because it's land and because

it's so fraught with a history

of violence and colonization and

displacement. And so it being

the foundation or the basis or a

surface that I could build other

conversations on top of feels

very rich. Building an image

onto another surface,

it can kind of like match that

kind of precarity and care that

I wanted to bring attention to,

but is also very celebratory.

It just felt very empowering to

kind of like show up in this

space with an image of queer

joy.

Woman: Estas parada.

Thank you for your beautiful

work.

[Singing in Spanish]

Rafa: I've worked with San Cha

before. She's a queer musician

who's singing, like,

traditional, regional, like,

Mexican music.

She's singing nortenas.

I feel like she was, like,

singing in front of

the painting, but I feel like

San Cha's presence was an

artwork in and of itself.

San Cha: [Singing in Spanish]

San Cha: My friend Javi said, "I

know Nacho." And I was like,

"Oh, who's Nacho?"

He's like, "Oh, I can get you a

gig," and eventually he did.

He sent him a video that I did,

and Nacho's response was, "Get

this."

In 2015, I moved to L.A. Nacho

would send me messages being

like, "Oh, it's your birthday.

Come, you plus 4," and he would

put me on the guest list.

So he like embraced

me immediately as soon as I got

here.

[Continues singing in Spanish]

Rafa: The ways in which, like,

Mustache brought in musicians,

visual artists, performance

artists, dancers, and really,

like, incorporated all of these

different talents into the

making of queer nightclub, from

like the designing of the flyer,

what the space looked like, all

of these skills were integrated

into creating, like, a place of

joy that was so carefully

curated to, like, a queer

community that maybe doesn't

feel they could have fun in West

Hollywood.

Franc: I moved downtown at the

end of '07, and Nacho was

always outside. Like, we lived

in the buildings right in front

of each other, and he was always

just like sitting outside.

It was just kind of like a

Sesame Street character.

Josh: I used to call him the

mayor of downtown because we

would just leave our loft to go

and get coffee and walk around,

and he was just saying hi to

everybody walking down the

street. "Hey, guys.

Hey, guys, how you doing?

Hey, what's up?" You know, and

that was just him.

Franc: My job was across the

street. So I would go from my

job to my loft, back and forth,

and then he just kind of wave

once in a while. I'd wave back,

because we'd see each other so

much. And then eventually he

added me on MySpace.

We shared two words on MySpace.

And then, finally, I saw him at

Akbar when he was handing out

flyers for Mustache, like one

of the first Mustache, and he

was like, "I was wondering if

you were gay." And then he gave

me the flyer.

And I went to the that Mustache.

I think I was like enthusiastic

about helping because it was the

only club I'd ever been in where

I was like, "Oh, my God, they're

playing exactly the music

I like. Everyone's super nice."

So, I was just like, "How can I

help in any way?"

I think he'd pay me like 25

bucks a flyer in the beginning.

You know, in my head,

I was like making an extra

hundred dollars a month doing

these flyers.

So I was excited, you know. A

lot of those flyers, in the

beginning specifically, were

me taking fashion magazines and

cutting pieces out, scanning

them, redoing them on--

putting them on the flyers.

Then Nacho would send me the

artists that are playing or all

the copy that should be on it.

I copied and pasted and would

design it, and then send it

back, and he always misspelled

things, so, I'd have to, like,

redo it all the time, which he

knows, like, I hated, but it's

funny now.

I mean, my job now

is referencing, right.

So, like, a creative director is

really just saying, like, "I

want the lighting to look like

this one image.

I want the styling to be similar

to this." Like, you kind of

always have to find references

or sketch them. And at the time,

I didn't realize that really

I was pulling references that I

loved. And that sensibility of

constantly looking for a

reference or an image that

excites me is still the same.

Dino: Part of the ethos of

Mustache was to nurture all

kinds of creative expression.

We weren't interested in things

that have been seen before or

commercial work. Nacho and

Mustache in part existed as a

platform to not only present new

performative work, but also to

encourage people to make

performative work.

Ryan: There's something that's

just so immediate about being

almost face-to-face with

someone.

[Indistinct music playing]

Ryan: And I always thought that

being face-to-face with someone

and knowing what we did as

performers, you always kind of

had to be on your guard, because

you don't know if we're going to

jump on you or spit on you or

make out with you.

So, like, people didn't have

time to judge what was

happening.

You had to take it for what it

was in the moment. When I

became, like, more mainstream, I

was being hired to do what I

did. And what I did was

performed in clubs for a long

time. So that, like, kind of

raw, energetic sensibility

when I was creating,

I think that's what's carried

over to my current-day work.

It's very human and

performative in a way, but it's

from a different school than

people that went to college.

You can tell immediately.

It was like being educated in

clubs. You know, learning how to

perform drunk, learning how to

dance for drunk people, you're

more sensitive and aware over

creating something so beautiful

and important and people can sit

down and watch it.

You're like, yeah, yeah, great,

but I don't--there's something

else to it that I think helped

me develop who I was as an

artist.

Sia: ♪♪ 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 3... ♪♪

Ryan: You know, I think the

breakout piece was "Chandelier,"

and I remember my friend and I

were like driving on the

freeway. We rolled down the

windows and like screaming

"Chandelier" when

it came on the radio.

It was just like, "Ahh!" It was

so [bleep] exciting,

and it's kind of like this,

like, wild ride.

Sia: ♪♪ Home for tonight ♪♪

Ryan: Being an artist and being

well-known in the world

at this point, it's always very

important for me to keep my foot

in the underground, allowing

that to be the, like, stronghold

to my work.

Maluca: My two best friends in

L.A. were living downtown

at the time, and they were like,

"You have to come to this party

at Charlie Os. It's the best

party in L.A., hands down.

It's right up your alley.

It's the best."

So we got into the club, and it

was what I wanted to do with my

music, but like in a club on a

dance floor, and it was weird,

and it was Latino.

And Danny and Justo were in

their underwears, you know,

pumping it.

I remember one time I was

performing at La Cita, and I

decided to have like a spa

theme, and I had wrapped my

head in a toalla, in a towel,

just like the act of just like

whipping that towel off my head

and people went crazy.

I mean, they really loved a

performance.

[Cheering]

Rush: When I first came to

Mustache, I went to a rehearsal

that Kiki "Jason" Xtravaganza

and Louis Xtravaganza

were having at Fatima Robinson

Studio, which was all like,

pfft, for me. One day,

I'm like Fatima Robinson,

Aaliyah, like all that.

My brain was just exploding.

So I'm in this space, and

they're like, "We have a

performance at Mustache," and I

had never heard of this place.

They created this beautiful

performance, and then we met up

at Nacho's apartment.

It was the first time I ever met

Nacho. At the time, he was

living with Danny and Josh,

and so they were all in there

and they were just looking at

music videos, things

I'd never seen before, like

Santigold and Yelle, and like,

just sounds that I was drawn to

immediately but would have

never known existed.

So we were in there, they're

playing all these records.

My mind is being blown just

minute after minute after

minute.

It was quite an experience.

[Laughs]

[Indistinct rapping]

♪♪ To keep it real, sometimes you

got to fake it ♪♪

It's easy to perform in front of

people you don't know.

But those people saw me every

Monday for years. And stepping

into the form I was becoming,

you know, as a musician and as

an artist was a little hard in

front of people that like I look

up to and people that shaped my

taste in a lot of ways.

So I think I learned how to step

over my fear of showing up and

performing and also knowing that

whatever I do in that moment,

it's about the moment and

whatever I can bring to it.

And I think that's one thing

that Nacho taught me is just not

to think so much about the

results, just like to do the

work.

[Crowd cheering]

Thank you, what's up?

Ryan: I think what was great

about Mustache being weekly is

that if you talked to Nacho

early enough, we always had a

venue to create.

So if we wanted to experiment or

had an idea, like, there was

never a no. A lot of times in

the performance world, you have

to get a theater,

you have to do this,

you have to like work out the

logistics of it, where it's just

like, this was ask Nacho, more

than likely, he would say yes,

and you're onstage in a week.

You know, like that was

I think such a positive thing as

an artist in Los Angeles is

that we had a theater. It was

dark, it was small and loud,

and, you know, wild, but that's

kind of like what we were drawn

to, you know.

And so we're so thankful

that it was always there.

Austin: I grew up in Reno,

Nevada.

It was pretty oppressive for me.

So I became super interested in

pop culture and especially punk

rock and people who were kind

of living outside of mainstream

society, 'cause I thought

that must be where I fit in.

Francine: Well, I won't stand

for this, Elmer.

I want a divorce and a big fat

settlement to go along with it.

Elmer: You'll never get a penny

out of me, you fat hunk of

cellulite. I only support

the women I love.

Austin: We would get films

like "Pink Flamingos" and

"Polyester" would come

to a local art theater.

So I sort of knew that this was

my calling somewhere in this

world.

When I was younger,

I felt that mainstream culture

had rejected me.

And so I was clear that I would

be subverting mainstream culture

and not being a part of it in my

artwork at a young age.

And so I became super

interested in drag queens and

performers who were also sort of

anti-establishment.

I love people.

And I wanted to celebrate these

people.

So I started doing their

portraits.

In the 2000s, the dot-coms were

really taking over San Francisco

and literally pushing people out

of the city.

And it had such a long history

of bohemian culture.

So artists had to move out, and

a bunch of us came to Los

Angeles, and we moved to Silver

Lake and Echo Park. You know,

shortly thereafter, 9/11

happened in 2001, and I think a

lot of interesting people kind

of migrated from New York as

well. L.A. just to me was

getting more and more

interesting. And New York had

always been considered the

center of the art world, but we

began to feel like, you know

what, we're going to create the

center of the art world here in

Los Angeles.

Squeaky Blonde and Fade-dra and

I started Tranimal Workshop in

2008.

The idea was is that we would

invite our artist friends to

come and kind of form a conveyor

belt around tables at a

gallery.

And then the visitor to the

gallery sort of starts at the

beginning and is transformed

into a tranimal we called it.

And then I would take formal

pictures of the final results.

And the idea was to have this

chaotic freedom to create

anything, but also I was very

interested in subverting gender.

It's like you couldn't tell what

gender somebody is,

and also the idea of beauty is

like kind of tossed on its head.

It was really exciting for us to

do, and it just kind of took

off. And Fade-dra was hosting

Mustache Mondays for 4 years.

So a lot of the outfits that

would show up at Mustache would

be something that we had

workshopped at Tranimal

Workshop.

Josh: Mustache was the hub, a

centralized place that creative

people all around L.A. and even

around the world came to us

because they knew of it and they

knew that it was a place to go

and meet other creatives and be

around other creatives.

And so there were a lot of

artists and variety of creative

people, designers and producers

and singers and dancers

and so many different people

that would come through our

doors that have all since then

blown up.

I can't say that Mustache is

credited with, you know,

launching any one particular

artist, but we definitely played

a part.

Diana: He was about 26 years

old, and he had invited his

stepdad and I out to dinner one

night. And we were taking him

back home, and he was sitting in

the backseat, and I was driving.

So I parked the car and I turned

around to face him so that we

could talk, you know, eye-to-eye

contact, and he goes, "No, Mom,

I need you to turn around."

So I turned around and I looked

straight ahead, and he proceeded

to tell us, you know, that

he was gay and he just felt that

it was time to share it with the

family. And I remember, I did an

about-face and turned and looked

at him and I'm like, "What?" You

know, it wasn't a disapproving

"What," it was just like I

couldn't believe it, you know,

because of all the boys in the

family, he was the one that had

the most girls around him all

the time and went to so many

proms. You know, everybody

wanted him to be

their date, and I had no clue.

Vee: It was kind of sad

because I know that he didn't

come out because he was like

ready to. He was like almost

forced to by someone in our

family.

Fortunately, he was the only one

who had a problem with it.

Everyone else was open and

accepting.

So then that kind of paved the

way for me.

I ended up coming out like two

and a half years later.

I remember he was one of the

first people I wanted to tell,

because I was like, "We're the

same." It brought us closer

together.

Diana: He put me in charge of

telling the rest of the family.

You know, he's like, "I don't

want to tell Grandma and Grandpa

or auntie or uncle." When I

shared his story with everybody,

they were like, "We know that.

We knew." And I was like, "How

did you know? I didn't know."

Carina: It was really hard for

him to come out, even though to

many it was obvious, including

my mother and my sister and my

father. They're like, "What do

you mean you didn't know?"

He wasn't a man that hid who

he was. Even after he came out,

he was still Nacho.

He still spoke the same,

pretty much dressed the same.

The only thing that changed is

that he lost his hair and he

went bald.

It wasn't anything that changed

his journey in life.

If anything, it enhanced it, and

he was just free and open to be

who he was.

Diana: I remember I cried for

3 days straight.

AIDS was a big thing back then,

and I was so fearful that he

might be taken from us because

of that disease that we didn't

know anything about.

Reporter: The American family is

now threatened by the AIDS

epidemic.

Man: I was fired from my job.

I have been refused housing.

Reporter 2: It's been estimated

that 80% of the gay population

could be carriers of the virus.

Woman: We had healthcare

personnel refusing to care,

morticians refusing to bury our

people. I mean, we've run the

gamut of dealing with a panicked

response.

Diana: After talking with him

and then I started reading and

doing some research myself,

I came to realize, you know,

that doesn't have to be a death

sentence for everybody.

Katie Couric: Matthew Shepard

was beaten last weekend, tied to

a wooden fence by two men who

met Shepherd in a bar in

Laramie, Wyoming. 18 hours

later, a passing bicyclist

summoned help after almost

mistaking Shepherd's bloody body

for a scarecrow.

Bradford: The nineties, 2000s

are like a watershed

period for LGBTQ+ culture

because it's like you've got

people like Matthew Shepard

and Brandon Teena, figures

who are these tragic figures

who then become catalysts for

policy change.

Terry: All too often today in

America, being or just seeming

to be gay can be dangerous.

A recent report showed a spike

of 13% last year in

violent crimes against people

because of their sexual

orientation or gender identity.

The victim in the case

we're about to show you

was a boy who liked to dress

as a girl.

Dino: In Oxnard, California,

there was a boy named Lawrence

King who was shot by another

student. And Nacho and our

friend Rigo and I went

to the funeral.

It was a very strange experience

because it was in a large

church, and pretty much

everything that was said about

Lawrence King glossed over the

fact that he was queer.

Not once did Lawrence's

identity get acknowledged.

That was really disappointing.

Danny: This was a hate crime

against a gay youth.

I think that's what resonated

with Nacho.

He was very taken by it.

Dino: I suggested to Nacho that

we do a memorial for Lawrence.

So we did. We collected pictures

of Lawrence and broadcast them

on the monitors of the bar.

And Lawrence's favorite

eye shadow color was blue,

so we asked people to wear blue

eye shadow and did a moment of

silence in honor of Lawrence

King and of other queer people

who have been killed. It's a lot

to ask to shut down a party

right in the swing of things

when people have been drinking

for hours.

And we explained why we're doing

the minute of silence, and

it was like--it's a poor choice

of words, but it was dead quiet

for a full minute.

And that to me was really moving

that people would actually just

take a minute of their lives

when they're like, right,

in the middle of a party to

acknowledge someone they

probably didn't know.

Danny: This is why we all

remember Nacho to be such a good

person. Just out of nowhere,

he decided to take some of our

door money and donate it to the

family to lend them support and

let their family know that there

was a whole community out here

that is willing to accept, you

know, gay youth.

Josh: I think for most people,

they look at nightlife and

clubbing as just something to go

and do that's fun.

But this was so much deeper than

any of that.

Anita: It was really about

building community.

And I think that's something

that people never really

understood or still really don't

understand about nightlife

because it has such a negative

stigma around it.

Josh: Mustache was a church for

many of us. You know, this was

our weekly congregating space

where we came to be with our

people. And Nacho is the reason

that we all connected together

in the way that we did.

Franc: The last one Mustache

I remember going to was in

Hollywood.

I just remember it feeling like

a complete departure from where

we started.

Ashland: Towards the end,

it was like, "What is this

exactly?"

Rafa: There was like this

question of, what is it going to

feel like in this new space

after I had been here in

downtown? And what does it mean

for this like party to be in

Hollywood? And everyone showed

up, all of our friends, and new

people came.

Miss Barbie Q: I remember

dancing that night a lot.

I remember taking my shoes off

and putting on my tennis

shoes to dance and just hugging

Nacho and him whispering in my

ear that I love you.

I remember that.

Rafa: Maybe what made it

memorable was that, like,

it felt like what Nacho had

built, it could happen like

wherever, like, Nacho went. It

wasn't pinned down to, like, a

building.

Abel: Mustache started off as a

small thing, and it kind of

became this institution in a

way.

Woman: I think Nacho was aware

of the cultural impact that

Mustache had.

He really put a lot of his heart

and soul into the party.

Rush: When I was talking to

Nacho, he was thinking about

moving in a different direction

with Mustache, but hadn't really

figured out where to take it

yet.

Rafa: He was like thinking of

ways to kind of like turn it

into something that was more

sustainable for him.

Carina: And he was ready to do

more. Like, he was ready to go

to Mexico City and live it up

and do some creative things

there. He manifested what he

wanted to do.

Rush: I first realized Nacho

needed help because I could just

see the stress on him.

I could tell that there was a

bit of exhaustion in him.

Danny: We kind of found out

we were positive at the same

time. And it was a tough weekend

for me finding out that I was

HIV-positive. But the next

following week, I had lunch with

Nacho and he was trying to skirt

and bring up the topic around

the issue of Ongina and "Drag

Race" and how she came out

HIV-positive.

>> Congratulations, girl.

Ongina: I just wanted to say,

and I've been always so

afraid to say it, that

I've been living with HIV

for the last two years of my

life. And this means so much

to me.

Danny: "I am, too," he said.

He started to kind of

like get emotional, and I just

kept on eating my beef stew,

like if it wasn't not a thing.

So I just ate my soup, had my

beef stew. I was like, "Oh,

yeah, me, too. It's gonna be

fine."

Ha ha ha. You know, we just

get on our meds, which I already

was. And then, you know, I could

see that his stress level came

down.

Carina: On one of my drives

home from work, he told me. I

was upset. I wanted to know

where it came from.

And he's just like, "That's

besides the point. I'm OK.

I'm going to take care of

myself."

Miss Barbie Q: I didn't know he

was HIV-positive, and it made me

very angry that he felt he

couldn't tell us that.

Vee: I questioned why he kept

it a secret.

I'll never understand

why he didn't include us

in that part of his life.

Ashland: We had intended to do a

party together. At some point,

he just, like, canceled it and

kind of like didn't, like, give

me, like, an explanation why.

And I was, like, texting him a

lot and he wasn't, like, getting

back to me.

Rafa: Called him a few times,

he didn't answer the phone,

which is really weird.

But then I found out that he had

been sick. And maybe it was,

like, knowing that he was

positive, but for

whatever reason, I felt alarmed.

He was very ill.

He was tired. He was exhausted.

And then we took him to the

hospital.

Diana: And I walk into his

room and first thing, he says,

was "Mom, don't cry.

You're gonna make me cry."

Then he told me that he was

HIV-positive. A couple days

later, they had found that he

had transitioned from HIV to

full-blown AIDS and that he

hadn't taken any medication

in 3 years. His insurance

had expired. And I was like,

"Well, you should have told me.

You know I would have given you

the money to buy it."

Josh: Nacho and I came up

in the nineties at the height

of the AIDS epidemic in this

country. To make it through all

of that, and then, you know, for

this to happen, it was

devastating.

It was beyond devastating, you

know. We're not supposed to lose

people like this anymore.

Gabriela: I feel like Nacho

impacted the people he touched,

like, greatly.

Diana: There were so many people

who came to his funeral from New

York and from England and from

Mexico and Africa, and I was

like, "My god. You know, this is

all for my son?"

Maluca: He left a major legacy,

and he was very much wanted a

celebration.

He was very much in the room,

his energy was in the room.

And we really danced for our

lives and his life and for

Mustache. And it was like

everything he could want.

Carina: I'm so proud and so

grateful to have been able to

share a seat in the concert of

his life. It was beautiful.

Dino: Nacho gave so much

emotionally, and he made time

for you. Nacho made all of his

friends feel special.

Franc: He understood people

and what they would want to be

next to.

I think he was just constantly

fascinated with people.

Abel: Like, this thing that he

created gave him the freedom and

the liberty to plant seeds and

let them blossom.

Rush: He curated an entire

community.

Ryan: He held it. You know, he

held it for all of us.

Gabriela: And the way he curated

us connecting.

Joseph: I think Nacho was

tremendously creative and knew

how to connect people and see

potential in a lot of people.

In that way, as a curator,

someone who studied curating,

going to the root word of what a

curator is, is one who cares.

And I think that Nacho was

certainly someone who cared a

lot about the people in his

community.

Rafa: So many of us, like so

many parties are indebted to,

like, the work that he's done.

The Los Angeles queer nightlife

scene is, like, so much, like,

more bombastic and fun

because of Mustache. But I do

really miss him.

Rush: The biggest legacy of

Mustache Mondays is the

community that it left

and the responsibility that

it gave all of us to be there

for each other.

Anita: Just so many things came

out of Mustache Mondays that

it's not fair to just label it

as a party.

Miss Barbie Q: People were not

just coming there to drink and

dance and party, but they were

also there to make connections.

Ryan: It kind of just defined

like one of the best

environments for an artist to

really thrive in. Safety

and freedom, support, all these

things were Mustache.

Josh: I think the legacy is what

we have now.

We have actual gay bars in

downtown again. Downtown has

its own DTLA Proud Festival now.

I feel like all of that is

cut from the legacy that we

started here.

Dino: Mustache was somewhat of a

success story because it lasted

for over 10 years.

Something that was built from

the ground up just with a couple

of friends sitting around

saying, "Let's do this,"

and we did this.

Singer: ♪♪ You should stay

Another night with me

A one-night stand

Is all I need

You should stay another night

With me

A one-night stand is all I need

You should stay another night

With me ♪♪

Singer: ♪♪ It's not over

It's not over

It's not over

It's not over

It's not over

It's not over, over

It's not over ♪♪

Announcer: This program was made

possible in part by City of

Los Angeles Department of

Cultural Affairs,

Los Angeles County Department of

Arts and Culture, National

Endowment for the Arts, and the

Frida Berlinski Foundation.

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